Facebook's Zuckerberg, Google's Pichai Brush Off Their Platform's Role in Capitol Attack

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

January 6, 2021 Capitol Attack

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai brushed off their platforms' role in the January Capitol insurrection, facing a congressional panel on Thursday.

It marked the tech giants' first appearance before Congress since hundreds of people fueled by social media messages stormed the building.

"The responsibility here lies with the people who took the actions to break the law and do the insurrection," Mark Zuckerberg told the Democratic-led House Energy and Commerce Committee via videoconference. "And the people who spread that content," he added. "Including the president."


Twitter's Jack Dorsey was the only social media CEO testifying to admit his platform bears responsibility.

Pichai said his company "always feels a deep sense of responsibility." But in this case, he said, "I think we worked hard. This election effort was one of our most substantial efforts."

Congress members pushed the three executives on platforms' algorithms and their role in spreading false and violent content. The powerful trio is under increased scrutiny as Congress considers revamping Section 230, a law protecting big tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google from taking the hit when it comes to misinformation.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) asked directly about a Reuters interview in which Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg said planning ahead of the siege mostly took place on smaller platforms.

"Certainly there was content on our services," Zuckerberg replied. "From that perspective I think there's further work that we need to do to make our services and moderation more effective."

In his written testimony, Zuckerberg urged Congress to consider dialing back Section 230. His proposal would grant liability protections only to companies with systems in place to oversee those posts.

And Dorsey acknowledged that Twitter can "do more" when it comes to building and exposing the platform's algorithms that impact the content users see.

But behind their calls for tighter regulation is an army of lobbyists working to keep the nation's most influential — and profitable —companies on top.

A recent report from the nonprofit Public Citizen found that Facebook and Amazon are the two biggest corporate lobbying spenders in the nation. And 94% of Congress members with authority over antitrust and privacy issues have taken money from a big tech lobbyist or PAC.

Some say the proposals would ultimately benefit the tech giants. Small companies, meanwhile, may struggle to build new systems and teams dedicated to overseeing dicey content. Whatever happens is likely to have profound implications for how users experience social media.

In response to concerns about how the platforms moderated harmful and false posts, the tech titans defended their strategies. Zuckerberg cited the tags added to some 150 million posts that misrepresented the 2020 presidential election. Pichai said YouTube removed 13,000 channels for promoting violence and extremism between October and December 2020.

"There's a lot of impressive numbers in there," Carmen Scurato, president of the advocacy group Free Press, said during a livestream event prior to the hearing. "They're grading their own homework."

"Don't get wowed by these statistics," Dr. Joan Donovan from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard said during the YouTube livestream with Scurato.

Coalitions like the Real Facebook Oversight Board want more than numerical evidence.

The group of advocacy organizations and nonprofits formed in late 2020 to tackle the slew of Spanish language posts that violate Facebook's policies but aren't caught by its algorithms.

"What kind of investment is Facebook making on the different languages to make sure that we have more of an accuracy?" asked Rep Tony Cárdenas, a Democrat representing a heavily Latino portion of the San Fernando Valley.

Zuckerberg pointed to Facebook's international fact-checking program, an initiative he said is "something we invest a lot in and it will be something we continue to invest more in."

But advocates cast doubt.

"We are not convinced one bit by Zuckerberg's empty promises and roundabout answers meant to distract us from the truth," said Brenda Victoria Castillo, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

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Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

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Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

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A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
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Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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